5) The House Of The Devil (2009)
Director Ti West, is one of the best things to happen to modern American horror. He’s mastered the art of suspense and shock. Although the Satanic cult panic is a thing of the past, this film was done exceptionally well. The best way to describe this one, is a fresh face to an old theme. A lot of its greatness is found in its’ aesthetic. Using an old soundtrack, complied with vintage wardrobe, and even shooting it in 16mm. It has an instant appeal to any cult horror fan. West utilizes his talent for building suspense, and the results speak for themselves. The look of an old film, from a fresh young mind.
4) The Girl Next Door (2007)
John Carpenter’s idea behind Halloween, was to bring horror to suburbia. This film turned suburbia into the ninth circle of Hell. The fact that it’s based on true events, made it’s delivery that much more powerful. The violent torture and abuse of two young sisters, would shock just about anyone. This one handled it in an interesting way, without turning it into a torture porn flick. This was done by utilizing one of Alfred Hitchcock’s old techniques, showing facial expression and reaction. Sometimes, a single look can speak volumes. For years, there had been a nostalgia for the carefree 1950’s and 60’s. Apart from being a visceral tale, it reminds us of the horror that hides behind closed doors.
3) The Babadook (2014)
This film was greatly hyped, even by Exorcist director William Friedkin. I had heard some people claim it wasn;t scary at all, and overrated. After sitting down with this one, it’s my opinion those same people need to sit down at the children’s table, when adults are talking. It had been a long time since a horror film had scared me, this one certainly did. Successfully combining elements of The Haunting and Repulsion. Building up a tidal wave of psychology and suspense, this one delivered in every way possible. Confining the terror to a enclosed domestic setting with a family, and watching a mothers psyche break down, bit by bit. Several times, it even broke from the plot to show the futility of her situation, to connect with the audience. A technique pioneered by French director Jean Renoir, from The Grand Illusion. This film is the absolute proof, that real horror is what you don’t see.
2) Calvaire (2004)
Without a doubt, this is one of best uses of atmosphere I’ve ever seen. The story of a wedding performer, kidnapped against his will, and forced to take the place of a hermits’ dead wife. Almost completely without a soundtrack or score, the events unfolding on screen establish the mood for the viewer. Another psychological thrill ride, it also possesses a great amount of black comedy. (There’s a running gag about a villager looking for his dog, and it turns out to be a pig.) Taking place in a remote isolated village, it plays up the fear of being stranded far from normal civilization. All the while, combining elements from Psycho, Misery, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You can’t always depend on the kindness of strangers.
This one’s no surprise, I feel this is the best modern horror film. I’ve brought this one up several times, and expressed my dread over the upcoming remake. Aside from being extremely violent, and possessing an incredible amount of suspense, it also has a great deal of depth to it. As I’ve stated before, effective storytelling with film, is “feel it first, think about it second.” Aside from the transcendental theme Martyrs has, it makes you think. Rather than a conclusion that’s cut and dry, it’s a subject open to interpretation. After all, how far would you be willing to go, just to find out what lies beyond this world? Truly, a thought provoking tale of visceral imagery.